BALTIMORE — If Tyler Duffey someday manages a major league team, he'll recall how he got his start down that road. He'll remember the day he was suspended.
"Yeah, it was pretty cool. I got to talk to Rocco [Baldelli] the entire game, to hear what he's thinking about during games, thinking ahead of things," Duffey said of the Twins' doubleheader in Anaheim on May 20. "He didn't feel like my boss, he felt like a coworker at the same company. As an ex-player, he knows how hard this game is, so it was interesting to hear his thoughts."
Duffey and Baldelli spent the second game of that doubleheader in an Angels Stadium suite, away from their team on the field while they served suspensions over Duffey's pitch to Chicago rookie Yermin Mercedes a couple of days earlier. They learned of their suspensions — Duffey three games for throwing the pitch, Baldelli one game for objecting to Duffey's ejection — only an hour before Game 1.
"I got a call from my agent. I said 'Hey, what's going on?' He said, 'You need to go talk to Rocco,' " Duffey said. "And I did, and it seemed like it was already being handled. It was a whirlwind of a day."
The Twins and the MLB Players Association got involved, and Duffey agreed to appeal his suspension, which would delay it until a hearing could be held. Then MLB agreed to reduce the suspension to two games if he dropped the appeal. The sides quickly agreed that Duffey could pitch in Game 1, then serve the suspension in Game 2 and the next day's game in Cleveland.
"They handled it really fast. There wasn't much conversation," Duffey said. "It was over quick."
Duffey threw 25 pitches and allowed three runs, including a home run by Taylor Ward, in the first game, so he was happy to sit out the second game. "I was getting destroyed on Twitter over [his Game 1 performance]," Duffey said. "I got assaulted on social media. It's part of the game these days, I guess."
Between games, Duffey and Baldelli, who also agreed to serve his one-game suspension that day, left the clubhouse and headed to an unoccupied suite provided by the Angels. There they watched Jose Berrios pitch the Twins to a 6-3 win.
"I was a nice ballgame and it was a nice day out. Watching Jose go out and do his job was great," Baldelli said. "I did find some enjoyment just being at the stadium, seeing the game, watching our guys from a little bit of a different angle."
What did Duffey learn?
"The game definitely looks much easier from up there," he said. "The game looks like slow motion from that far away."
The best part was still to come, because after the make-up doubleheader, the Twins flew all night to Cleveland to open a three-game series the next day.
"That trip to Cleveland was one from hell — and I got to miss the worst part," Duffey said.
He went to Progressive Field with his teammates, and worked out as normal. But he was required to leave before the game started, so he walked back to the team's hotel.
"I was going to root for the team, but I couldn't get the game in my room," Duffey said. "So I looked for someplace that had the game. I wound up in a restaurant nearby, a sports bar, and watched it there. Luckily, nobody recognized me, nobody bothered me. I could watch in peace."
But the Twins quickly took a 10-0 lead, and Duffey lost interest. He stopped watching during the seventh inning and went back to the hotel.
"It was a strange finish to the whole thing. I wanted to have a nice dinner and watch the game, but it wasn't much of a game," Duffey said. "But the whole thing was strange, right from the start."